The Vermont Gran Fondo: Summer Activities

Vermont gran fondoVermont is renown for its natural beauty, and country living life-style. As a result, of the long list of potential outdoor activities, cycling is a favorite. Because the combination of stunning scenery, clean air, lightly traveled roads, and challenging terrain attract cyclists from afar.  Consequently, the October Country Inn has long been a home-away-from-home, and base of operations for many, many visiting cyclists. Mark your schedules. The 2019 Vermont’s Gran Fondo is slated for June 29. Go online to vermontgranfondo.com for information and to register.

Gran Fondo hits Vermont

Gran Fondo is Italian for ‘big ride.’  Typically, Gran Fondo events are long distance, mass-participation cycling events—not races.  They are immensely popular in Italy and the rest of Europe.   And are quickly becoming increasingly popular in the United States. Participation is open to cyclists of all abilities. The Vermont Gran Fondo is not a race in the traditional sense.  But it goes well beyond the scope of most recreational or charity rides. In some ways, the Vermont Gran Fondo is similar to a 26-mile running marathon. Its a personal challenge. Rather than racing other participants, participants are challenging themselves in a battle against the course, and the distance.

A Special Road Course in the Green Mountains

The challenging nature of the Vermont Gran Fondo is due to a road course that crosses the Green Mountains at four different locations.  Called “gaps,” these mountain passes all involve some serious climbing.  The southernmost Brandon Gap is a category 2 climb with 1,178 feet of elevation gain in 3.2 miles with an average grade of 7%

map of Vermont gran fondo

Vermont Gran Fondo course.

and a maximum grade of 18%. Next to the north, the Middlebury Gap is a category 3 climb with 1,018 feet of elevation gain in 3.1 miles with an average grade of 6% and a maximum grade of 27%.  Next to the north, the Lincoln Gap—distinguished by being the steepest continuous mile (20% to 24%) in the U.S.—is a category 2 climb with an elevation gain of 1,059 feet in 2.7 miles with an average grade of 15% and a maximum grade of 24%.  The northernmost Appalachian Gap is a category 2 climb with 1,163 feet of elevation gain in 2.7 miles with an average grade of 8% and a maximum grade of 24%.

Is this on Your Bucket List?

Pick the challenge that suits you from among the four course choices: The Gran Fondo course is 108 miles with 11,400 feet of climbing over the Appalachian Gap (west to east), Lincoln Gap (east to west), Appalachian Gap again (west to east), and the Middlebury Gap (east to west). The Medio Difficile course is 66 miles with 6,900 feet of climbing over the Appalachian and Lincoln Gaps. The Medio Facile course is 77 miles with 7,000 feet of climbing over the Appalachian and Middlebury Gaps. The Piccolo Fondo is 37 miles with 2,600 feet of climbing but no Gaps. The Vermont Gran Fondo is truly a challenge. Ride it if you can.

By |2021-01-06T19:09:55-05:00May 31st, 2019|Bike Rides|

20 Mile Stream Road: A quiet Vermont bike ride.

Town of Ludlow

Town of Ludlow

The October Country Inn has long been a favorite for visiting cyclists.  The 20 Mile Stream Road loop is a Vermont bike ride of modest length.   It starts with a long gentle downhill section.  It adds a quiet, slow (mostly uphill) ride along an idyllic country backroad.  And then finishes with a breezy, brake lever clutching downhill. The ride starts out though a lake front residential section along a scenic state highway.  It goes through the towns of Ludlow, and Cavendish before you turn off the highway.  Your thoughts and concern dim as you become one with Vermont’s bucolic splendor.  If you want to extend the ride, start and end this ride at the October Country Inn for a total of 44.3 miles.

Cyclists love a Vermont bike ride.

20 Mile Stream Road

20 Mile Stream Road

For the 20 mile option, park at the Tyson Church parking lot off Route 100 across from the Echo Lake Inn. Ride south on Route 100. The road has narrow shoulders, and winds through a residential area that front lakes (from north to south) Echo, Rescue and Pauline that are fed and drained by the upper reaches of the Black River. Turn left where Route 100 south intersects with Route 103 south (3.4 miles) and continue into the town of Ludlow where Route 100 and Route 103 split (5.4 miles). There are several opportunities for restrooms, food, and drink in Ludlow.

Take a break in Ludlow.

Continue through Ludlow, about 2 miles, and beyond on Route 103 south.  Turn left on Route 131 east (8.5 miles). Singleton’s General Store, in Proctorsville, is on the right (8.9 miles). A little bit further (9.0 miles) you will come to Depot St. Two blocks down, on the left, is the Opera House Café & Bakery. Riding on, following Route 131 east, without warning, and for no apparent reason, the town of Proctorsville suddenly becomes the town of Cavendish. Be sure to keep an eye out on your left for Twenty Mile Stream Road (9.3 miles) It’s the longest street sign in Vermont.

20 Mile Stream Loop MapTurn left on 20 Mile Stream Rd (9.3 miles), it’a paved road with no marked shoulders, but little traffic. It begins as a bit of a climb and then goes up and down, mostly up winding through a haphazard mix of residences before it opens up through a meadow filled valley. Typical of a Vermont bike ride, it just feels good to ride through it.

Visit Happy Acres Farm.

The pavement on this Vermont bike ride ends (13 miles), turns to hard-pack dirt and steadily increases in pitch until it intersects with the Tyson/Reading Road (16.3 miles).Turn left on Tyson/Reading Road, and slip into the big ring. With the exception of one small up and down section by Colby Pond, the rest of the ride is a peddle free downhill ride on a winding paved road (no marked shoulders but little traffic) through shaded forest and open meadow until you reach the end of this loop a the junction with Route 100 (19.3 miles).

By |2021-01-07T16:14:55-05:00July 3rd, 2018|Bike Rides|

Pomfret Loop: A typically beautiful Vermont bike ride.

 

Staying at the October Country Inn, and looking for a great bike ride?  Start from the Inn, or reduce the distance and start from Billings Farm.  From the Billings Farm this 24 mile ride involves about 1,100 feet of climbing.  The Pomfret bike ride is really sweet and ranks second on the October Country Inn list of great local bike rides. There are two route choices.  The 24 mile loop starts and ends at the Billings Farm just outside of Woodstock. The route winds up and down along narrow shouldered, but lightly traveled country roads through classic Vermont hill farm, and river valley scenery. This ride can be increased to 42.2 miles when combined with an out-and-back from the October Country Inn.

Fall foliage alongside Pomfret Road.

Pomfret bike ride near Woodstock, Vermont.

Starting from the Billings Farm’s overflow parking lot. Exit the parking lot; turn right on Old River Rd for a short distance. Bear right onto, and follow Route 12 north until you reach the “Y” intersection with Pomfret Rd. (0.6 miles).  Turn right on Pomfret Rd and follow it until Pomfret Rd. turns to the right when you reach the Teago General Store (2.6 miles). Follow Pomfret Rd. as it begins to climb, winding through incredibly beautiful hill farm country. When you reach the top of the climb (5.8 miles), shift into your big ring for a long downhill cruise. This leg starts out winding through open pasture land, and then funnels into a narrow creek side valley. Upon reaching the White River (11.8 miles), the road bends to the right, and follows the White River. This road dead ends at a stop sign (12.4 miles) at Quechee/West Hartford Rd. To the left is a bridge that crosses the White River, leads to Route 14, and the West Hartford General Store.

Cycling route map.

An exceptional Fall foliage ride.

Turn right onto the Quechee/West Hartford Rd. (unmarked) and begin to climb. At the top (15.9 miles) shift into high gear once again for a shorter downhill sprint. Keep on the lookout for a paved road on the right that intersects with the Quechee/West Hartford Rd. at a very shallow angle (17.6 miles). Carefully turn right on this road (Quechee Main St., unmarked), and almost double back in the direction you came. Follow this road through and beyond the Quechee Country Club.  Turn right onto River Rd. (21.0 miles) when you reach the Taftsville covered bridge. At this point, River Rd. is hard packed dirt following the Ottauquechee River. River Rd. turns to pavement (23.2 miles). Turn right into the Billings Farm overflow parking lot to complete the ride (24.0 miles).  Download Pomfret Loop map.  Download Pomfret Loop Directions.

By |2021-01-07T18:37:52-05:00August 11th, 2016|Bike Rides|

OCI triangle: Perfect Woodstock bike ride.

Old wooden farm sheds in fall.

Formet US President Calvin Coolidge’s homestead.

October Country Inn has long been a home-base for visiting cyclists.  Quiet country roads, stunning scenery, and friendly local drivers make for great cycling.  Distances range from 109 miles to 9 miles.  This blog post’s featured cycling route is a local favorite.  This Woodstock bike ride is the October Country Inn’s home route. It’s short enough for an experienced cyclist to get in a morning ride before breakfast, and long enough to slow down the pace and enjoy the surroundings.  Every memorial weekend, the Killington Stage Race uses this course.  For Vermont, this route is relatively easy.  It consists of about 830 feet of elevation gain over seven miles, with several long downhill stretches.  The route consists of three legs that form an 18 mile triangular loop.  Despite its modest overall distance, this route has a lot of interesting features, not the least of which is the remarkable Vermont scenery.

Perfect Woodstock bike ride from the October Country Inn.

Woodward reservoir.

Woodward Reservoir.

The first leg of the route passes by the historic Calvin Coolidge homesite. A good place to take a break near the top of the initial 6 mile, 450 foot climb. There is a restaurant, an old-fashioned general store, a museum, and the Plymouth cheese factory at the site.  The second leg of the route passes by scenic Woodward Reservoir.

Go for a swim.

At the start of the third leg of the route, a small commercial area contains two convenience stores, a deli, a restaurant, and bicycle shop. This final leg follows the Ottauquechee River.

October Country Inn bike loop map.

From October Country Inn, head west on Upper Road to its intersection with Bridgewater Center Road (.11 miles).  Turn left onto Bridgewater Center Road to its intersection with Route 4 (.03 miles).  Then left to the intersection with Route 100A (.21 miles).  Make a right and proceed along 100A to the intersection with Route 100 (7.36 miles).  Proceed along Route 100 to the intersection with Route 4 (5.63 miles).  Turn right and proceed along Route 4 back to Bridgewater Center Road (5.67 miles).  Then turn left on Bridgewater Center Road, and right on Upper Road back to October Country Inn.  Map & directions.

By |2021-01-07T18:47:03-05:00June 28th, 2016|Bike Rides|

Vermont’s Fall foliage: Best seen from the seat of a bicycle.

Fall colors line a typical quiet Vermont country road.

Fall colors line a typical quiet Vermont country road.

For decades, during the summer as well as the fall, the October Country Inn has been home-base for those who come to experience the idyllic Vermont countryside from the seat of a bicycle.  In fact, the OCI was originally founded to satisfy the lodging needs of the nascent Vermont bike tour businesses.  The incredible scenery along a plethora of quiet country roads make Vermont a destination for cyclists from near and far.

Vermont’s Fall foliage route options.

There are many route options to choose from.  Just in our little corner of the state, there are a dozen or so local cycling routes.  These routes all come with maps and blow-by-blow road directions.   All you’ll need is a bicycle, a water bottle, and the inclination.  It’s not mandatory to stay with us, many don’t, but we’d love to have you if you decide against camping out.  Don’t forget, after your ride, the Longtrail Brewery is just across the street.

Old dairy barn alonside Pomfret Road.

Old dairy barn alonside Pomfret Road.

One of the cycling routes, the Pomfret loop, is a 24 mile tour of Vermont hill farm country and river valleys that delivers a spectacular variety of fall foliage color vistas.  This particular ride begins and ends at the Billings Farm and Museum, outside of Woodstock, Vermont.  Park in the overflow parking lot and begin the ride by riding north on Route 12 for 0.6 miles and take a right on the “Y” intersection with Pomfret Road.  Follow it as it turns to the right at the Teago General Store

Breathtaking scenery abounds.

Colors light up the Vermont hill farm counry.

Colors light up the Vermont hill farm country.

(2.6 miles) and begins to climb, winding through incredibly beautiful hill farm country. When you reach the top of the climb (5.8 miles), shift into your big ring for a long downhill cruise. This leg starts out winding through open pasture land, and then funnels into a narrow creek side valley. Upon reaching the White River (11.8 miles), the road bends to the right, and follows the White River. This road dead ends at a stop sign (12.4 miles). To the left is a

Hills, valleys, and rivers.

Taftsville covered bridge.

Taftsville covered bridge.

bridge that crosses the White River, leads to Route 14, and the West Hartford General Store.  Turn right onto the Quechee/West Hartford Rd. (unmarked) and begin to climb. At the top (15.9 miles) shift into high gear once again for a shorter downhill sprint. Keep on the lookout for a paved road on the right that intersects with the Quechee/West Hartford Rd. at a very shallow angle (17.6 miles). Carefully turn right on this road (Quechee Main St., unmarked), and almost double back in the direction you came. Follow this road through and beyond the Quechee Country Club.  Turn right onto River Rd. (21.0 miles) when you reach the Taftsville covered bridge. At this point, River Rd. is hard packed dirt following the Ottauquechee River. River Rd. turns to pavement (23.2 miles). Turn right into the Billings Farm overflow parking lot to complete the ride (24.0 miles).

 

 

By |2021-01-12T11:04:26-05:00September 30th, 2013|Bike Rides|
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